Today is World Mental Health Day, and thousands of people have taken to social media to not only bring awareness to mental illness, but to also remove the stigma surrounding it. Many of us are suffering in silence, and the more we feel comfortable speaking openly about our mental health, the less likely we are to go to extreme, even dangerous lengths when we feel we can’t.
British supermodel Adwoa Aboah can relate. The 26-year-old shared a poignant post on Instagram in honor of the day. In it, she shared old photos of herself while going through a really dark space. According to the model, the photos were taken a few weeks after she tried to take her own life. Battling with addiction and depression, she found herself attempting suicide by overdose. Looking back at those photos four years later, Aboah is grateful for emotional growth, but honest about the fact that she has found herself right back in that place she was in on October 3, 2014. The work to get to happy is ongoing.
“I look at these photos and I see a different person staring back at me…the darkness had over taken me, the grey had engulfed my life, I was broken, exhausted and the light has completely left my eyes,” she wrote. “On the 29th of October these photos where taken by my boyfriend at the time, 4 years ago on the 3rd of October I tried like many others before me and many other after to take my own life. I look at these photos and my heart breaks, I mourn the girl I once was, it’s almost as if I’d like to jump into the photo, kiss away the tears, hug her forever and tell her that she’s not alone, tell her that many others suffer with mental health problems but that there is light at the tunnel, tell her that this to shall pass, it will return but it will pass. I love that girl in the photo, I remember her and everything she went through to get me here today. For anyone suffering today, tomorrow and always please know that you are not alone. Today we celebrate you today we celebrate #worldmentalhealthday . Today we remember that this is no joke, today we remember the families who have cared and laid awake worrying, the nurses, doctors, treatments centers, sisters, brothers, wife’s, girlfriends, husbands and boyfriends, sons, daughters and best friends. Today we remember the ones here and the ones gone. For the rest of my life I promise to shine light on this illness that so many times is forgotten, I promise to give the unheard a voice whenever I can, I promise to remember the girl In that photo and everything she had to go through and to protect the woman I have now become. Sending mad amounts of love out today from one very happy but exhausted woman. Mad love Adwoa. Xxxx”
While the images are from a very hard time in the model’s life, there is some beauty to the vulnerability of it all:
Since her suicide attempt and work through recovery, Aboah has created the organization, Gurls Talk. It allows a safe space for women to relate to stories about everything from sexuality, empowerment and emotional struggles while feeling comfortable enough to share their own. The big and the small is up for discussion to help everyone move away from bottling things up, only for them to explode.
“As a society we need to concentrate more on the emotional stuff,” she told i-d magazine. “Why is that not as important as the academic? We must learn to talk, share and be honest about how we are feeling, because it’s only when we share our innermost thoughts and feelings that we regain our power.”